2010’s In Film Day 4 (2014)

January – Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

This is probably the biggest horror franchise which I’ve completely ignored. No idea why as I’ve heard the first one is quite good, I’ve just had no interest in them. I was going to do them for Halloween blog last year but I accidentally purchased the mockbuster version instead. Maybe it would have been funnier to do those films instead, but I had so little free time in October that I didn’t want to waste it watching bad films.

February – Robocop

How is this not bigger? Maybe it was a timing thing. The general feeling of Obama’s America was more hopeful than it is now. Now everything seems bleak and horrible. We’re a few days into the year and the political climate is heating up (as is the actual climate, as the devastation to Australia has proven), there’s cynicism and hatred everywhere. Nobody has any hope that the future will get better. Even people who support the parties in charge think the future will suck for a lot of people “but it will be worth it to get blue passports”. So maybe now is the time we need a Robocop film.

March – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I feel this is the most important movie in the MCU. Not so much because of the story, but because of the quality of the film. This was when Marvel movies went from dumb fun to capable of brilliance. This is where comic book movies stopped being a genre and started being a subdivision of other genres as diverse as spy thrillers, space comedies, and family dramas. All that’s left now is a comic book horror movie. For more of my thoughts, read here.

April – The Amazing Spiderman 2

A month after The Winter Soldier wowed audiences, this came out. I feel those two things are linked. Since the MCU started, a lot of other franchises have been attempted. Not many have worked, probably due to the fact that it took the MCU a while to get going, and people forget this. People think all the Marvel movies started being connected, yet The Incredible Hulk was a standalone movie, the only reference to Iron Man being a short post-credits scene (well the only obvious reference anyway). It was possible to enjoy those films on their own, yet a lot you can’t, they spend far too much time setting up future franchises that they don’t really spend enough time on it’s own story (biggest offender is The Mummy reboot a few years ago).

May – Godzilla

Now, this is a potentially better franchise. Kong and Godzilla work as standalone films and are great spectacle films. I feel age has been kind to this film, there was a lot of disappointment when the film came out. That was mainly because it had Bryan Cranston in it and people expected him to be the main character, so when he died and was replaced with Aaron Taylor-Johnson it was bound to rub fans up the wrong way. Yet if you know about it and watch it again then it’s actually quite an impressive piece of film-making. It’s not a film that you’ll love, but if you have an impressive enough television and sound set-up then it’s a great way to spend an evening with people. A few years ago I watched the Planet Of The Apes trilogy over New Years eve, I feel the two Godzilla movies and Kong would also make a great thing to watch like that. Have a few people round and have the film in the background as you chat shit and eat cheese. This film also has a REALLY creepy piece of music.

June – Oculus

This was the first film I watched with my Cineworld card, and it remains the worst cinema experience I have ever had, to the point where it soured me on the movie. The lights came on about 10 minutes before the film ended, completely ruined the experience. You don’t realise how lights affect the cinema experience but it does. As soon as those lights came on it deflated the room, it took everyone out of the movie. I do need to watch this film again to give it a fair go, I feel the constant “it’s real! no it’s not! yes it is! no it’s not!” fake outs would still annoy me, but maybe not as much.

July – Guardians Of The Galaxy

I feel people have forgotten what happened before this film came out. It seemed destined for failure. A lot of people were saying it’s going to be the first bomb of the MCU. That a film featuring characters most people don’t know, featuring actors a lot of people don’t know, set in space, wouldn’t work. That it would fail, and fail HARD. Just goes to show, nobody has any idea what will work. People expected The Lone Ranger to be huge, and I bet you completely forgot that film existed until now. Again, my thoughts here.

August – Sin City 2

The time between this and the first film: 9 years. That film was a success, this was bombed. Just goes to show the importance of timing when it comes to sequels. If you do them too soon then the audience will get burned out (think of the game series with yearly release cycles), yet if you space them too far apart then the audience either won’t care, or society would have moved on beyond what you’re making (best example of this is the Duke Nukem game). I don’t know why this is so much worse than the first one, it just feels less than. It feels like the first one was a labour of love, and this one was in pursuit of fans of the first one. I could be wrong, and usually am.

September – Life After Beth

I love this film. I know it’s not the greatest film of all time, but it’s unique and very funny. The closest film is Shaun Of The Dead, but that’s only in terms of genre as they’re both zombie rom-coms. When it comes to style and tone, this is a completely different bushel of bananas. Something about this film feels very 90’s or late 80’s. It would be easy to imagine this as a brat pack John Hughes movie. I haven’t said it yet in this blog, but I highly recommend this film. Even if you don’t like it, I very much doubt you’ll be bored.

October – Gone Girl

So damn creepy and dark. I saw What We Did On Our Holidays about 2 weeks before, a very different performance from Rosamund Pike. It also has the best Tyler Perry performance ever. To the point where you almost forgive him for the Madea movies (I feel I’m being mean to those movies considering I’ve never seen them, they could be comedic classics that I love, but after watch the trailers, I sincerely doubt it). Again, I highly recommend you watch this film, but you will need to prepare something nice for after. This film will drain you, but not in a way that makes you feel empty (if that makes sense). It will emotionally kill you, but when some films do that they leave you unable to speak for a while. This is the opposite, you’ll come out talking a lot. It also has the best blu-ray presentation ever. It comes with a childs book that is kind of nice, but when you read it in the context of the film, it’s horrifying. This, and Life After Beth, heavily inspired us to make this.

November – The Drop

Wait, I saw this just after Gone Girl? Damn 2014 was great. I thought this film would be kind of standard “Boston gangster” film. It’s GREAT though. A huge part of that is Tom Hardy, this is the film where I fell in love with him as an actor. It made me realise he gives great performances. I truly believe he’s probably the greatest actor around at the moment, every role he has he throws himself completely into it. He doesn’t really have a performance “type”. He’s helped in this film by the script though It’s so fucking good. It takes you by surprise every step of the way and will hook you in for the duration. Not just a great film, a very very smart one too.

December – St. Vincent

An annoying film. Because it’s really good. It’s smart, funny, and touching. But the worst thing about it is Melissa McCarthy is REALLY good in it. As such it’s disappointing when you see so many films where she returns to type. It also shows another side to Bill Murray, a slightly sadder and softer side. Bill Murray is lucky he’s Bill Murray. Seriously, watch films he’s in and imagine his character is played by another actor, you would HATE that character. Most of his characters are arseholes, complete dicks. Yet somehow he makes them work. Lucky bastard.

The 5 Most Annoying Trends In Horror Movies

Last week I went to see the forgettable The Forest when it occurred to me, there’s been no genre with as high a disappointment ratio as horror. In the last two years (or since I started getting a cineworld card), I’ve only seen two very good horror films: The Babadook and It Follows. It’s probably the only genre with more films I’ve disliked (Annabelle, The Gallows, Unfriended) than liked. I’ve figured out that I dislike most of the films for the same reasons, so I looked at those reasons and list them here.

1. Native Americans/Japan

So what’s the cause for this demon that’s haunting everybody? Well, you just need to go for either Native-American or Japanese. The Japanese one is simply the fear of the unknown, but it’s not really unknown anymore. This isn’t the 70’s anymore, we’re aware of Japan etc and we’re no longer ignorant of their culture. So it’s weird that we do seem that a lot of modern horror films just go “because Japan has ghosts” as an acceptable answer. But that’s nowhere near as one that’s almost become cliche: Native Americans. This is a lot simpler, it’s to make do for the guilt of the genocide that took place hundreds of years ago, so we imply that they were a noble people with power beyond our grasp,bestowing upon them a knowledge and power that makes us feel okay with almost wiping them out. There’s not many modern American horror things in real life, there’s not many countrywide urban legends and rituals, so using Native Americans or the culture of the Japanese is just lazy shorthand.

2. Soundtracks.

Quick, what do the following have in common: The Exorcist, Halloween, Psycho? Well, they’re all horrors which have stood the test of time. But try to remember something about this films, odds are you just had the soundtrack to one of them in your head. Which makes me feel sad that this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore, It Follows is the only horror with a really good original soundtrack I’ve seen in seemingly forever. Most films just go with filling their soundtrack with rock music so they can make more money from the soundtrack. The trouble with this is that familiarity makes you feel safe, so when you’re watching a film and you’re sitting there and you recognise the music then you automatically get taken out of the film, you’re no longer scared. It’s like my nan used to say: Its impossible to be scared whilst listening to Creed. The only exception is if the characters themselves are listening to music, then you’re allowed to have familiarity. But if you’re having a horror chase scene to a song by P.O.D, then I won’t be scared, I’ll be wondering why the hell you chose that song. Please note: I know that Tubular Bells is a Mike Oldfield song that does exist outside of The Exorcist, but there is a difference between the way that the film used that, and the way that modern films use music.

3. Lack Of Originality

Yes, I know there’s been a Point Break remake this year, and there will soon be a Ghostbusters one. But no film genre is as incestuous and mastubatory as horror. Look, I know why this happens. It can be hard to market horror, it can be difficult to make people feel scared in a 30 second advert. So it’s tempting to just do a familiar concept so that people think “oh, that’s another film about killer t-shirts strangling people, I love them!” and go to see it. Companies want to showcase the best moments in the trailers, this is why you get the best jokes from comedies in the trailer. But in horror that’s different, you can take the scariest scene from a film, but take it out of it’s context and it’s meaningless. The best adverts I’ve seen for horror over the last few years have been It Follows and The Gallows. Because they showed absolutely nothing. You left the trailer with more questions than when it started, you wanted to see it to find out what happened. In this sense, less is definitely more. Ok, The Gallows ended up being a dire pile of faecal matter, but the trailer was superb.

4. Final Jump Scare

I blame Paranormal Activity for this. That film (apparently) stayed relatively restrained throughout, but then ended with something jumping towards the camera, thereby making it a feature length version of one of those videos that asshole at work always shows you. The reasoning behind this was that it would mean the audience would leave the cinema still shaking, otherwise, you know, they might have forgotten it was a horror movie and think they just watched P.S I Love You (which is a film which inspires horror and despair, but for a different reason entirely). The trouble with these fourth wall breaking scares is they break the story. By this point the ghost or demon or cannibalistic giraffe has already been destroyed and everyone lives happily, but to then have the thing leap at the audience at the end just means the story isn’t over. And if there’s no sequel then the film is completely pointless as nothing changed, it’s just a story of a demon that kills then kills again. Now, this is different from a downer ending where you feel an unending sense of doom, as they’re usually set up well so you’re walking out scared of the world as opposed to just the tiny amount of fear that jump scares inspire.

Worst Offender: Unfriended

Not only was this pointless, but it ruined what would have been a fantastic ending that almost saved the film.

5. Jump Scares

If you’ve seen a horror film lately you know what this is, quiet quiet quiet, sudden loudness and something happens. This scares the audience. But it doesn’t, not really. It doesn’t fill you with terror and make you scared outside of the film. It won’t effect your life once you’ve left the cinema. Basically; they don’t last. You don’t walk around afterwards with that sense of genuine terror. Look, we get it, being genuinely scary is hard, but if you can’t do it, don’t bother attempting. I don’t want to be fine after your film, I want your film to fuck me up and leave me unable to sleep. And jump scares don’t do that. You can have a few of them, but they can’t be the entire modus operandi.